4 business books that boost leadership

business books

Foodservice leaders are not always born. Mentors, TED Talks and books help shape their management styles. We asked several operators to share the training literature that changed the way they do business. Here are their top picks.

1. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

By Patrick Lencioni

“This book really sheds light on what holds teams back and how to be the best team with good conflict,” says Timothy Gee, executive chef at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Brunswick, N.J. He also recommends “Winning” by Jack Welch. Gee says everyone wants to win, and this book chronicles how the General Electric CEO did just that.

2. Emotional Intelligence 2.0

By Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves

“[It] speaks to growing successful management teams who are both business-focused and situation-aware,” says Chris Abayasinghe, director of Notre Dame Food Services in South Bend, Ind. Abayasinghe also buys “You’re in Charge, Now What?” by Thomas J. Neff and James M. Citrin for all new members of his management team, because it helps in assimilating his senior groups into their new role of being leaders first, and managers of process second. 

3. The Energy Bus

By Jon Gordon

“[Gordon] reminds us to have fun and not get bogged down about being a perfect leader,” says Bruce Key, Morrison Healthcare Food Services’ senior learning and development consultant in Charlotte, N.C. He says the book’s narrative form makes it an easy read. Gordon also swears by “Good to Great,” by Jim Collins, which advises leaders to take accountability and not shift blame. 

4. Unthink

By Erik Wahl

“[Wahl’s] message is take risks, find your creative side and live life to the fullest,” says David Davidson, managing director of Harvard University Dining Services in Cambridge, Mass., who also recommends Wahl’s “Unchain the Elephant.” Davidson says the books help to rediscover creative genius and unleash potential, so he bought both of them for his 69-person management team.

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